Jaime Gilinski Faces Moment of Truth as Colombia Bids End

The billionaire has shaken the normally sleepy Colombian markets with bids worth as much as $3.4 billion to take stakes in the nation’s biggest food maker

One of Nutresa's brands.
By Andrea Jaramillo and Ezra Fieser
January 11, 2022 | 08:45 AM

Bloomberg — Billionaire Jaime Gilinski has shaken the normally sleepy Colombian markets with bids worth as much as $3.4 billion to take substantial stakes in the nation’s biggest food maker and a financial holding company. Now, with both offers expiring this week, he’ll find out just how successful he was in wooing shareholders.

Investors in Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana SA have until Tuesday afternoon to tender their shares, with Gilinski and his son, Gabriel, offering to buy as much as 31.68% of the holding company for $8.01 per share. A day later, the bid for Grupo Nutresa SA expires. In that one, Gilinski teamed with the royal family of Abu Dhabi to offer $7.71 a share for as much as 62.6% of the maker of snacks, chocolates, coffee and other food.

Gilinski's bids have fueled a rally in the Medellin-based companiesdfd

Through the end of last week, 15.6% of Nutresa’s outstanding shares and 13.8% of Sura’s had been tendered.

Even if Gilinski doesn’t reach the minimum amount he initially set out to buy -- 50.1% of Nutresa and 25.3% of Sura -- he’ll likely go through with the transactions, according to a person familiar with his thinking who asked not to be identified discussing strategy. Stakes as small as 14.3% will be enough to get control of board seats at both companies, according to Luis Ramos, an equities analyst at LarrainVial.

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Representatives for Gilinski declined to comment.

Nutresa and Sura, along with Grupo Argos SA, are part of Grupo Empresarial Antioqueno, or GEA, an association of Medellin-based companies that has grown into Colombia’s biggest and most-influential business group over the past four decades. It has done so, in part, by using a cross-ownership system that has made it impervious to outsiders seeking to take control.

That is, until Gilinski came along with his bids to upend the Colombian market.

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It began Nov. 10 with the announcement of the offer for Nutresa with a 38% premium over that day’s closing price. Three weeks later, the offer for Sura was announced at a 27% premium. Since then shares in both companies have surged.

And with GEA’s cross-holding structure, Gilinski doesn’t need to launch an offer for Argos -- which has holdings in cement, energy and infrastructure -- to end up with a stake in that conglomerate as well.

Argos and Sura, which combined have a more than 45% stake in Nutresa, have rejected the offer, with Sura saying in a December filing that it “significantly” undervalues Nutresa. And Argos, which holds close to 28% of Sura, also rejected the tender offer for the financial conglomerate saying last week that the bid is below the company’s fundamental value.

That means that other investors will determine the tenders’ success or failure, according to Ramos.

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“‘Success’ implies that Gilinski obtains a significant (non-controlling) stake in these companies, while paying the control premium,” Ramos wrote.

As of Jan. 7, 64.8 million shares had been tendered for Sura, or 44% of the as much as 148.2 million shares Gilinksi has offered to buy, according to the stock exchange. And 24.9% of the up to 286.8 million shares that are included in the offer had been tendered for Nutresa.